The fact that the tower of Jesus Christ is open to visitors, as Gaudí wanted, means it must have a staircase and a lift, which totally transform the perception of this lantern as it fills a space that would traditionally be open. With the tower of the Virgin Mary, the inside is more dome-like, although there is a grandiose skylight very high up. The tower of Jesus Christ, however, was conceived of differently from the very beginning, taking into account that the core, comprised of the staircase and lift, is the path that, after passing through the creation of the universe, the palpable truth, leads us up to the cross, eternal life. This description shows that the core is necessary not only from a structural standpoint but also in terms of symbolism, to build the phrase spoken by Jesus that gives meaning to the whole: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
A WHITE-STONE WALL, SPIRAL STAIRCASE AND A GLASS LIFT
When you get to the inside of the tower of Jesus Christ, after having crossed the bridges from the towers of the Evangelists, you will see a tower inside the tower, with a circular base that is wide enough for a spiral staircase and a lift.
The wall that encloses this inner tower is white stone, specifically Blanco Cristal granite, and is open at the top. The whole thing is perforated, with rhomboid openings that get bigger closer to the top, where there is a sort of twelve-pointed crown connecting the core to the tower in a structural link between the core and the panels.
As a result of this opening, the staircase separates from the lift higher up and, in the final third of the core, these two elements are no longer touching. After considering the option of having open risers on this section, we decided to make the whole thing a floating staircase. This allowed us to make the lift glass, as it didn’t have to support the weight of the stairs. The wall of the core, however, does support the weight of the stairs and this led us to build it with the same tensioned-stone technique used for the outer panels of the tower. The staircase is also made of tensioned stone but, as it is spiral, the tensioning is truly unique.
Finally, the lowest part of this stone core is made of four large pillars connected by four large archways at different heights, following the descending line of the staircase, letting visitors into the interior with the staircase and the lift.
The route visitors will take to the central lantern of Jesus Christ hasn’t been finalised yet, but we do expect that visitors will be able to enter the tower from different levels.
The first level will be in the Crossing Room, a huge circular room with terraces and 15-metre vaults, made of red Venetian glass and tiles. This room is located just below the tower of Jesus Christ, 65 metres above the Temple floor. It isn’t actually part of the lantern but more of an attic-type space that more often is used as a lovely place to welcome visitors. From this level, visitors will be able to move into the lantern of the Virgin Mary to admire the purity of the unique whiteness of this tower.
The next level will take you to 85 metres above the Temple floor inside the tower of Jesus Christ. From here, looking up and all around, visitors will see the representation of the creation of the universe. The huge verticality of the space will surely have a huge impact on visitors.
Afterwards, however, they will still be able to go up further in the lift, to 138 metres, and then continue up on foot to 144 metres, where there will be a platform, a structure supporting the glass lift right at the structural link between the core and the panels. From this position, looking up again, you’ll be able to see 20 metres further into the inside of the cross. Then visitors will be able to choose whether to walk down the 60 metres or take the lift. Those who walk down, though, will get a close-up look at the mural of the creation covering the inside of the core and admire it in much more detail. It will be a very different view than from the bottom, more of the whole. At the same time, visitors will get a view of the city of Barcelona through the triangular windows in the tower.
Finally, there will be one more point that leads visitors into the arms of the cross, at 165 metres above the Temple floor. Due to the limited space, however, visits to this space will be extremely restricted. In any case, this final path to the cross must be done on foot, showing the sacrifice and hard work necessary to reach the final goal.